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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Arm Chair County Listing

eBird has a new feature called "Target Lists" in which you can enter an area (County, State, etc.) and a range of months and eBird will compare your eBird list (Life, Year, Month) to what has been reported in that area.  This is a particularly useful tool for planning my upcoming trips around CBC's etc.  eBird counts everything on your list, not just ABA Countable species, therefore I have always and will continue to keep my official lists on MS Excel.  In the past, I have gone through periods where I did not keep good records and much of what I saw before eBird came along is long forgotten or only exist in vague memories, the dates faded away with time.  Thus, my eBird lists lagged behind my official lists in nearly all counties.  In order to take advantage of the new tool, I uploaded my county lists to eBird using the standard protocol for entering historic lists.  eBird protocol for entering historic records, where the date is unknown, is to use 01/01/1900 as the date.  If the approximate date is known, that can be inserted into the checklist or species comments.  I reviewed the records (those not reviewed by the local reviewers) and invalidated them with the code "Observer Building Lists" so they not skew the scientific value of eBird (I have always thought that eBird should be above listing, but I could not resist the new tool.)

Last night, I stumbled across an unexpected bonus.  I happened to pull up my Franklin County list on eBird and noticed that there was a species (I don't remember which) that I had entered into eBird, but somehow failed to tally on my official list (i.e. the first date recorded was other than 01/01/1900.)  Eureka!  I could go through and find other "Arm Chair Ticks!"  Surely there would only be a few more to add, here and there.  D'oh!  38 counties, more than half, had armchair ticks waiting for me.  I'm really bad at this county listing thing.  When all was said and done, I added another All-County Species (Black-and-white warbler was seen in Bay County after all, 58 down, 42 to go) and another bird for the half county list (now 195 species over the 33 county mark, getting me closer to the goal of seeing 200 species in over half the counties, with three more sitting at 33 and six more at 32) I had 13399 county ticks, one away from the goal of averaging 200 in every county.


Then, I discovered an old Florida Field Naturalist Vol. 31, No. 2, May 2003 (I've been doing some fall cleaning lately.)  In the Field Observations section there were a number of reports from (D. Simpson) including a Long-tailed duck in Volusia County.  TICK!  I got to the goal of averaging 200 in every county while reading in bed before going to sleep.  Rather anti-climatic, but it was nice to get to that goal and get closer to a few others (I picked up two in Hernando, now 199, one in Dade, now 298, and Volusia is now 295, a little closer to the goal of 300.)